Friday, May 25, 2018

For a Friday

The last Friday of May ....


A bombing at a Toronto Indian restaurant is somehow not terrorism despite the carnage it created:

Raj Sapkota, a waiter at Bombay Bhel Indian restaurant in Mississauga, Ont., was in the kitchen preparing desserts when two men concealing their faces came in, set down a bomb in the reception area, then turned and ran.

It was 10:32 p.m. on Thursday. Many of the staff had already gone home. Two dinner parties, both about a dozen people, were still in the restaurant, one seated by the front window, the other in the middle of the room. One was a little boy’s birthday party, with balloons. Both sets of customers were longtime regulars, Sapkota said.

Between 10 and 15 seconds later, there was a loud bang. The blast shattered a set of interior glass doors and ripped open the ceiling. People started crying and shouting as the extent of their injuries became apparent. Blood ran onto the floor. There was not a lot of smoke, though there was a lingering smell like gasoline.

Sapkota said he saw “so many nails” from the bomb’s shrapnel, including one embedded in a woman’s leg. One person was bleeding from the stomach. “I think one is the birthday boy’s dad,” Sapkota said. “He was the most injured.”

“Everybody was screaming, panicking. They don’t know what to do. Everyone wanted to get out from the inside after the blast,” Sapkota said. “It was a very scary scene and people were like running around, like what to do.”

Somehow, not a terrorist attack.

Well, John this is something you have to own, so ... :

Toronto Mayor John Tory says that despite frequent appeals for help dealing with a totally overwhelmed shelter system, “We just haven’t had any indication of any help at all. Zero.”

According to a report, ‘“I just don’t think that’s fair,” he said of a growing crisis that is expected to cost municipal taxpayers at least $64.5 million in 2017 and 2018.

Tory said the city has a “crisis on our hands” as college dorm rooms are transformed into shelter spaces and public buildings like community centres might be next.”

Speaking of which:

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says officials will attempt to correct misinformation being circulated in New York state offering instructions to asylum seekers on how to illegally cross the border into Canada as political pressure mounts for government to do more to address the influx of irregular migrants from the United States.

What information would that be?

From the pamphlet:

Yes, about those things:

Canada and the U.S. signed an agreement 15 years ago effectively forcing refugee claimants to request protection in the first safe country they land. The agreement prevents claimants who were refused in one country from hopping the border to try in the other, or from claiming in both.

The Safe Third Country Agreement applies only to refugee claimants trying to get into Canada from the U.S. either through land-border crossings, by train or at airports.


The far bigger problem, though, is the Trudeau government’s incoherent policy regarding border crossings. If these migrants showed up at the official port of entry at Lacolle claiming Canada’s protection, they would be turned back, because Ottawa considers the U.S. a “safe third country” (i.e. a safe place for individuals to claim refugee status). Yet, confusingly, migrants are not being turned back when they pass through a well-known, unofficial crossing mere kilometres from the official port of entry at Lacolle. These illegal crossings occur right in front of RCMP officers. This inconsistency is the result of an odd loophole in the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement: it only applies at official crossings, not unofficial ones. The signatory governments assumed it would be too difficult to confirm the journey of people who crossed illegally and proceeded to lodge refugee claims in Canadian cities.

Canada’s immigration minister Ahmed Hussen has reminded potential refugee claimants that entering through unofficial crossings is illegal, and has said they should instead submit their refugee claims in the U.S. Yet, words are meaningless if they’re not backed up by consequences.

In these circumstances, the RCMP is doing its best to give the impression that laws are being enforced. Its officers arrest the migrants for crossing illegally, but quickly release them so that they can proceed with their refugee claims. Potential claimants coming from the U.S. are fully aware of this game. Many Canadians have seen images of the absurd way illegal migrants are being handled on the old Roxham Road several kilometres from the official Lacolle crossing. If this is allowed to continue, it will almost certainly undermine public confidence in our immigration system.

It is a 25-mile cab ride to a new life, for which the going rate is $50 to $75. But one cabdriver was keeping the meter off and charging $100 to $300 in cash, depending on his mood. And his passengers were not in a position to complain.


Evidence exclusively obtained by the Toronto Sun suggests that the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) is co-operating with the RCMP in dealing with the flood of migrants entering Canada illegally. This is significant given that CBSA deals exclusively with legal border crossings, while the RCMP is responsible for illegal crossing. 

Working together suggests a blurring of responsibility, and raises further questions about why our immigration laws are not being enforced at unofficial crossings. 

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen assured everyone that he reached out to the pamphlet designers to make certain that the correct information on how to enter the country illegally and stay as long as possible is being printed.

The NDP will take and run anyone. It takes a special kind of ignoramus to vote for that party even without the promises of so-called free things and the thread of Nazism running through it:

The Ontario PCs held a news conference on Friday to point out a strange 2013 Facebook post from Tasleem Riaz, the NDP candidate in Scarborough-Agincourt. It appears to be a motivational quote from Hitler: “If you don’t like a rule…just follow it…reach on top…and change the rule,” the meme quotes Hitler saying, along with a photo of him giving the Nazi salute.

It's just money:

It was open rebellion from the opposition as the House of Commons erupted in yelling and desk-slamming Friday morning with MPs protesting the Speaker’s decision to cut off a point of order about the Liberal government’s alleged “slush” fund.

The extremely loud and unusual ruckus began as opposition MPs rose in solidarity with NDP MP Daniel Blaikie, who was outlining procedural arguments against the government asking Parliament to approve $7 billion of spending all at once in this year’s main estimates. The government says the money will be used on budget promises.

Speaker Geoff Regan had cut Blaikie off after about 15 minutes, citing his right to move on after he’s heard “enough” on a topic. He then interrupted procedural arguments against that move from Blaikie, Conservative House leader Candice Bergen and Tory finance critic Pierre Poilièvre, before trying to move on to ordinary House business.

MPs did not take it well.

Because that is collusion.

Seven billion dollars of other people's money may seem like a small matter to Justin and his friends. The only thing that seems transparent from this cover-up is how quickly the Liberals and the speaker, apparently, want everyone to shut up about it.

It is not surprising that Trump finally walked away from talks that would have Kim Jong-Un ostensibly denuclearise. The Kim dynasty and its Chinese financiers have played the game long enough to know how to win or at least walk away with some sort of prize. There is no victor but a stalemate that has gone on since 1953.

The popular press is quick to point out North Korea's uncharacteristic "patience" with the bombastic Trump but the decidedly forget with who they are dealing.

Cases in point:

As North Korea makes increasingly aggressive calls for the return of a group of restaurant workers in China who defected en masse to South Korea in 2016, it has come to light that the regime is also making efforts to persuade other defectors in South Korea to return to the North. 

“Anti-espionage agents from the provincial Ministry of State Security offices are calling up defectors in South Korea in an effort to get them to return to the country,” said a Ryanggang Province-based source to Daily NK on May 23.

“The agents tell the defectors point-blank that they will be met by agents in China and even give them telephone numbers to call once the defectors arrive in China. They are trying to bring them back to the country."
It's not like the US' erstwhile ally, South Korea, under Moon's leadership, is making matters easier:

When North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un suggested in a New Year address that his country might be open to participating in the Winter Olympics, South Korea’s president and top aides quickly convened to craft a friendly response. 

U.S. officials, however, weren’t included in those consultations and, to their consternation, were notified just hours before Seoul announced its proposal to Pyongyang for negotiations.

North Korea’s surprise outreach and South Korea’s opening to its northern rival have stirred tensions between Seoul and Washington—despite professed unity in public statements—as the allies work to present a common front in dealing with Pyongyang, according to senior U.S. and South Korean officials.

This blind side served to set up Trump as the sole reason for the inevitable failure of the talks, talks that surely won't continue despite hopes. Moon hopes to escape whipping.

But all of this side-steps what most South Koreans fear:

According to a 2014 government estimate it would cost US$77.3 billion just to rebuild North Korea's decrepit railway network, to say nothing of bullet trains. Road rebuilding projects also cost an arm and a leg. Back in 2005, the government estimated that it would cost W3.2 trillion to supply 2 million KW of electricity to the North over five years, and W3.5 trillion to build just one light-water reactor (US$1=W1,069). North Korea's power grid is so decrepit that the power shortage rate stands at 70 percent. The mind boggles at the cost of rebuilding it. 

But Pompeo insisted those picking up the tab "won't be U.S. taxpayers." Bolton also said there will be no U.S. government assistance for North Korea. U.S. President Donald Trump is already asked Mexico to pay for his harebrained scheme of a wall along their border and views the U.S. troop presence in South Korea as essentially a cost problem. In other words, there will be no U.S. government support for North Korea along the lines of the publicly funded Marshall Plan that helped Europe back on its feet after World War II. 

Instead Washington could turn to the International Monetary Fund, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank or Asian Development Bank to share the cost of rebuilding North Korea and ask another country to guarantee the loans. South Korea ended up having to guarantee a considerable portion of loans after the 1994 Geneva Accords. South Korean taxpayers had to pay 70 percent of the cost of building an abortive light-water reactor in North Korea.

But the longer North Korea remains a communist dictatorship unwilling to join the modern market, the more expensive it will be for the South Koreans to bring that country up to speed.


Thae Yong-ho, a high-profile North Korean defector, has offered to quit a think tank affiliated with South Korea's spy agency, its official said Thursday. 

The former London-based diplomat who defected to the South in 2016 expressed an intent to resign from an advisory post at the Institute for National Security Strategy late Wednesday, according to the official. He has worked for the institute since January 2017.

Thae made the decision voluntarily in consideration of the current growing momentum for the reconciliatory mood and cooperation between the two Koreas, the official said. 

His departure came about a week after he published a controversial memoir focusing on the inner working of the North Korean regime and criticism of its leader Kim Jong-un, which drew harsh words from the North.

Quitting will only embolden Kim, Mr. Thae.


A planned demonstration of the Korean martial art taekwondo by a joint Korean team has been unilaterally canceled by the North, according to sources Friday. 

The International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), an international organization led by the North, notified the South Korean-led World Taekwondo (WT) of the cancellation on Thursday.

In the brief letter, the North Korean taekwondo federation reportedly cited the Max Thunder military exercise between South Korea and the U.S. as the major reason for the pullout from the planned demonstration. 

The joint team, comprising South and North Korean taekwondo practitioners, had planned to give the performance at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on May 30 in front of dignitaries including Pope Francis.

The joint event had been suggested by Vatican representatives when they visited South Korea for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February. After the Olympics ended, the Vatican officially proposed the two organizations stage the performance in the run up to the WT's Taekwondo Grand Prix event slated for June 1-3 in Rome.

A bit of good news from the Korean Peninsula:

Actress Park Ha-sun is volunteering her time to promote the government's efforts to recover and identify the remains of soldiers who were killed during the Korean War. 

Park appears in brochures and posters to promote the Defense Ministry's operation to recover war remains. They promise a reward of up to W700,000 for those who find remains, and offer detailed information including a telephone hotline and instructions on how to collect DNA samples from remains (US$1=W1,079).


Taiwan on alert after Chinese bombers fly over it:

The South China Morning Post notes that the bomber flight occurred just a few hours after Burkina Faso cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan under pressure from China, the latest successful operation in Beijing’s campaign to isolate the island nation:

In the latest flight by People’s Liberation Army aircraft around Taiwan, two H-6 bombers passed through the Bashi Channel which separates Taiwan from the Philippines in the early hours of Friday and then rounded Taiwan via Japan’s Miyako Strait, to Taiwan’s northeast, the island’s defense ministry said.

This China

Putin claims to want to step down after his current term is finished:

Vladimir Putin said on Friday he would respect the Russian constitution which bans anyone from serving two consecutive presidential terms, meaning he will step down from his post in 2024 when his current term expires.

Sure, he will.

Does anyone want to hear Captain Picard's voice in the transit system? Make it so! :

If Mayor Don Iveson had his way, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise would be the voice of Edmonton's transit system.

Iveson voiced his desire to have English actor Patrick Stewart call out the stops on city trains after Wednesday's council meeting. ...

While there are no concrete plans to bring in a celebrity voice in Edmonton, Iveson suggested that the Star Trek commander's dulcet tones would be perfect for helping commuters navigate the transit system.

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